Great Dixter in Northiam opened its magnificent door (the big main one at the front) for the annual Christmas Fair on November 26 and 27. The log fires were alight and the visitors who came were welcomed with a glass of hot mulled apple juice, containing a lot of apples and a small amount of brandy, so no one had to worry about the drive home! The visitors were pleased to find the punch was included in their entry ticket price and that they did not have to produce “coins of the realm”, as one person put it.
The Fair, which is held each year in the mediaeval Great Hall and on the ground floor of the Arts and Crafts part of the house, was filled with wonderful goods of all descriptions, from Warp and Weft’s bespoke tailoring service (your reporter purchased an amazing winter coat like no other), to Martha and Ed’s homemade marmalades- how about Seville and ginger- and delicious olive oil, from this October’s harvest and fresh from the Sabine Hills in Italy.
There were beautifully covered books and prints, Annie Soudain was there, with her paintings, linoprints and fabric collages, there were country crafts and Sally Hayes, who had never been to this Fair before, selling Toscana Italian skin care products. She gave those of us working in the kitchen some hand cream when she saw all the glasses we were washing up! She is coming back to see the garden and the house when it opens again in April. Why don’t you all come? We’re working hard to make it as glorious as ever!
Lots of stalls were set out across this magnificent place, and in the gardens and grounds. The Great Barn was used for more stalls and the all-important tea and cake. This year, there was an emphasis on some rather wonderful willow products and Great Dixter Nursery was selling its paperwhite narcissi in terracotta pots. The Nursery itself was open, as always, and the Loggia served food and drinks. The hot dog stall did a thriving business, ably run by Daphne the dog and her humans. Of course, Conifer and Miscanthus, the owners of the house in dachshund form, the breed so loved by Christopher Lloyd, were making sure no crumb was left uneaten, and that their owner was doing his bit in the car parks!
In all, about 940 people came over the two days, and the final figures are being computed as I write. There were too many lovely things to describe, so come next year, it is always held around this time, and see for yourself.
Photos: Gillian Roder